A once-in-a-lifetime prize of a luxury wedding at Richard Corrigan's Virginia Park Lodge in County Cavan has been won by Galway couple Aileen Burke and Gerard Cunniffe.
The #CorrigansVowToTheFrontline competition attracted almost 3,000 entries and raised over €36,000 for the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP).
The competition was the brainchild of Celebrity Chef Richard Corrigan who offered the prize, a wedding for a frontline healthcare worker at his 18th century estate.
The couple said that they were overwhelmed and could not believe the news when told about their win.
Aileen from Corofin who is an ICU nurse at University Hospital Galway. and Gerard from Tuam are meeting management at Virginia Park Lodge this week to set a date and arrange the details for their luxury wedding.
They had originally planned to marry on 27th March, the day the full Covid-19 lockdown came into force. That date would also have marked their 10th anniversary of meeting.
SVP National President Kieran Stafford who selected the winners from a shortlist of five couples said; "In my view Aileen epitomize the spirit of what this competition is about, to honour a front line worker who has made sacrifices for others in this crisis and put their own needs behind the needs of others.
To brush off the disappointment of her wedding not going ahead and go straight into work to save lives in my view is amazing. All the shortlisted entries were amazing I wish we had 5 weddings to give out.
"We are extremely grateful to Richard Corrigan and his team for providing the public with another opportunity to show their support for frontline workers who have done so much during Covid-19 and at the same time make a contribution to SVP.
We badly need funds at this time and support like this helps ensure that we can carry on providing help to the thousands who contact us by phone and online.”
In congratulating Aileen and Gerard, Richard Corrigan said: “When Covid-19 hit Ireland and the U.K our whole world changed. We were forced to shut down our businesses without the knowledge of when we’d reopen.
I’ve always had the utmost respect and admiration for anyone working for our public healthcare service which includes my two sisters, niece and wife, Maria.
This initiative isn’t a scratch on the vital work our frontline workers are doing during this pandemic, however, I wanted to offer a token of our appreciation to those engaged (or soon to be) as well as offering crucial funds for St Vincent De Paul’s emergency appeal.”